The Crosstown classic begins tonight, and continues through until Thursday. The teams appear to be on different arcs, with the Cubs playoff-bound and the White Sox thinking about who they can trade away at the deadline coming up. But none of that matters when the two teams take the field tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
On paper, it looks like the Cubs will be able to take it to the Sox, especially since Sox ace Chris Sale is out of action. This should be a mismatch, right?
But there’s an undercurrent that Cubs fans should be aware of, and it doesn’t bode well.
This year MLB has decided to create an interleague “home and home” series for every one of its teams. There were two games played on Monday and Tuesday in one city, with the action switched to the other ballpark for Wednesday and Thursday. Four days, four games, two ballparks. Fun, right?
Some of the matchups are geographically obvious, like the Cubs and the White Sox and the Giants and A’s in the Bay Area. But others are harder to understand. Boston and Atlanta are in the same time zone, and the Atlanta Braves were once the Boston Braves, but somehow they had an interleague series against each other already this season. The Red Sox took three of the four games of the series, so that counts as a win for the American League.
You might think that 4 game series like this should split two games apiece, with neither team able to declare victory over the other. Everyone ties, and nobody loses. But in only one of the 11 series so far this season has this happened. The Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins–bound together by being located in the upper midwest, I suppose–split their four games this season. But in 10 out of 11 series played so far, a winner could be declared.
Guess how many of these ten interleague series were claimed by the National League team? Five, right? After all, that’s half of ten, and it makes sense for the two leagues would split these series in this way.
But no, it isn’t five series for the National League, and five for the American League. In fact, that’s not even close to being the case.
Well then, let’s be optimistic and say that seven series went to the NL team, and three went to the the AL team. After all, the American League pitchers have to bat sometimes, and that must work to their teams’ disadvantage, right?
But no, that’s not the case. In fact, you’re getting further away from the correct answer. You’re getting colder, I might say.
6 series for the AL, and 4 for the NL? Warmer.
7-3? Warmer, but not there yet.
8-2? Now you’re really warm.
9 wins the AL, and 1 for the NL? Congratulations.
Yes, the breakdown goes like this:
The Miami Marlins of the National League took 3 out of 4 from the Tampa Bay Rays when they played over four days back in May. And it’s all downhill from there, for the Senior Circuit.
Houston (AL) took 3 of 4 from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Detroit (AL) took 3 of 4 from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The LA Angels (AL) took 3 of 4 from the Dodgers back in May.
Seattle (AL) took 3 of 4 from the San Diego Padres.
Kansas City (AL) took 3 of 4 games from the Cardinals to claim Missouri bragging rights.
Oakland (AL) took 3 of 4 games from the San Francisco Giants last month.
Toronto (AL) took 3 of 4 games from the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Cleveland Indians (AL) outdid everyone by sweeping the Reds and claiming the Ohio Cup (or whatever it’s called).
So after 44 games of interleague play in these eleven “home and home” series, the American League has won 31 games, to just 13 wins for the National League. That’s a beatdown, no matter how anyone decides to look at it.
After the Cubs and White Sox play their series this week, there will be only the Mets and Yankees, Nationals and Orioles, and Rockies and Rangers left in this new format. I like the idea, and I hope it continues in the future.
But anyone thinking the Cubs will mop the floor with the White Sox needs to understand the odds of this happening aren’t real good.
With that said, Go Cubs!